Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winter’s Last Hurrah

We’re having one of those strange years here in this part of California. Most often, we get an early spring here. Trees often start blossoming in mid-February while basking in sunshine, only to experience the return of winter-like conditions later. Most of our precipitation comes from the tropics, but if a weather system rolls in from the north we get a late season cold snap. Local peaks will get a dusting of snow, and the sierras get good fresh powder in April. Skiers and snowboarders relish this phenomenon, and the resort owners celebrate it as though it was some kind of high country economic stimulus program. But this provides possibilities for hikers too. So just when we were contemplating storing away the winter gear, suddenly there was opportunity for snowshoeing. When we were invited to take a day trip to visit the Eldorado National Forest we jumped at the chance. One last hurrah before winter fades into memory.

Sierra at Tahoe has some dedicated snowshoe trails, but with the new storm depositing plenty of new snow you wouldn’t be restricted to them. Actually the trails were a little hard to discern because most of the markers had not been placed properly. In the national parks, the cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails have markers placed in the trees which stay there all year. But at this privately owned resort, the trail markers are mounted on poles which have to be placed at the right time, set into the snow, and become anchored there. We found several groups of them in piles near the trail which had not been set in place, and with the new snow, had now been anchored where they were as though it were some kind of art sculpture. Without having any GPS tracks, we had found our way along one trail by using the occasional tree mounted markers, but we had been meandering all over the place looking for them. Later on one of the resort employees was using a snow machine to pack the trails with its track. That made things a lot easier. Until then we had been taking turns breaking trail, which blows away any kind of health club equipment for providing a good overall aerobic workout. We hiked a couple of loop trails and got some nice views of the nearby mountains and valleys. I really love the pine scented air, and beautiful stillness of the wintery forest resplendent in pure white.

Click here to see my photos on flickr
Click here to see Dave's photos on

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